Dear Beloved Family and Friends,
In answer to a question - Scripture study is probably the thing I look forward to most in my entire day, aside from appointments. I have almost made it through the Book of Mormon again (three chapters left). This is the first time, however, that I have taken notes, analyzed, and really thought out everything. This takes a long time and is very slow moving. Some days I am only able to finish one or two pages in an hour and a half or more. Hence, it has taken me four and a half months to finish it. But hey, I'd rather really understand everything than read it like I do any another book. I mean, it is the most true book on the face of the earth. It deserves the time and mental effort.
I also do a different scripture study for my lessons and investigators. A lot of this is Malagasy-based and focused on constructing ways to best explain a certain scipture. Honestly, I haven't been bible bashed nearly as much as I thought I would be. In fact, the number stands at zero. I have always known more about the Old and New Testament than the people we teach. Sometimes someone who is tena mahay Baiboly (Yes that means what you think it does...probably) and they throw out something their preacher has told them. Through study and my senior companion passing on his knowledge to me, the proper verse of scripture to help explain is always found. Plus if you explain any principle using the Spirit and using basic, easy to understand teaching methods, then there usually aren't any questions or problems. I've probably have just gotten very lucky so far and haven't really met a true Bible wielder.
I've learned so much about myself and the scriptures and the gospel and a little more about the true nature of God and a million other things that it is impossible for me to write it all down. I will say that everything I knew before my mission has had an "Ah ha!" moment. I knew it before, but now I feel like I better understand it. I won't say that I completly understand each gospel principle, because then I'd be perfect, and we all know I am as far as you can get from that ;P.
So we have five baptisms coming up this Saturday. The sister did all the teaching and we get to do the baptisms. I like this arrangement.
So, it's time for my weekly food story - eating Malagasy food, great way to save a lot of money. For 50 cents I can get two bowls of rice and beans on the side of the street for dinner every night of the week. Call me crazy but I think that it tastes like heaven. Most of the meat that they try to put in my bowl is gross and cold so I generally ask for them to not put in in there. The lady is always like, "Have it any way you want crazy white man". Her and I have become fast friends in a bond through rice and beans. She knows I will always stop on the way home at the end of the day for my regular. Yum yum yum. Best of all, it is fast! I hate getting hope late and then not being able to eat for thirty minutes to an hour. Preperation time is not fun when you don't have much time to begin with.
I am going to buy about 65 Kilos of weight tonight from this guy that makes custom weights. I am going to pull all the money out of my account and spend the rest of my personal fund. Will this leave me broke and left to survive on the allotment? Yes. Will I propbably go hungry or at least become sick of rice? Yes. Is this a price I am willing to pay for a good weight set? Absolutely.
The language is going well, I think. I can have pretty decent conversations with people I know. I can't talk about everything, obviously, but my understanding (or guessing!) has much improved. It is cool when people think that I am just a missionary who isn't that good at Malagasy but has been here for awhile. No one assumes I am new anymore so that is fun. Then when I tell them I've only been here for two months, their heads explode. I am soooooooo glad that I have the Lord on my side in this venture. Otherwise, I'd still be a babbling idiot. Pray for me.
The gospel brings change to peoples lives, so extremely true. I was just thinking on this yesterday when I observed some kids at church. Because of the gospel in their lives, they have structure. They have peace. They have morals. And most importantly they have the knowledge of a life to come and of the love of their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. These members have no more money than the average Malagasy, but they do have the gospel. There is such a profound difference in their behavior that it is shocking. At first glance you would assume that they belong to some rich family that can afford an education in Europe. But no, all they have is the gospel. And that is truly all that really matters.
What I do know is that I have been called to invite all to come unto Christ. I will listen to the spirit directing me in times of trouble. Well I love you mom and dad and I pray everyday for you.
The Curly Headed Wanderer